Hakaya in Arabic means folk tales. Hakaya members chose this name in 1994 to represent themselves as a Palestinian folk song and dance group. The stories are told through movement and song. These stories represent the way of life of Palestinians from ancient times until now.
Since its establishment in 1994, the Ghirass Cultural Center has had a strong focus on Palestinian folklore through the Hakaya group. Hundreds of children have graduated from Dabka courses at the Ghirass Center since 1994. Dabka is the traditional style of Palestinian dance, performed at celebrations and festivals. The costumes, songs, music, and movements come from the Palestinian heritage that the Ghirass Center works hard to preserve and educate its members on. This focus is due to Ghirass’ belief that folklore is an important part of the process of building the Palestinian nation. Traditional Palestinian folklore (singing and dancing) is used in both amateur social settings and theatrical performances. Students not only learn the steps by name and the corresponding rhythms but they also learn leadership skills and develop a positive attitude towards, and a deep understanding of Palestinian culture.
Since 2000, the Ghirass Center has hired older Hakaya Troupe members as coaches for the younger Hakaya Troupe members. The Hakaya group always incorporates three groups, all called “Hakaya”. These groups are Hakaya for Older Children, aged 14-16, and two separate groups for younger children aged 12-14, and 10-12, as well as a popular singing group.
The Hakaya groups have participated in many festivals and local events sponsored by the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Sports and Youth, in addition to celebrations on national occasions such as Prisoner’s Day and Palestinian Children’s Day.
Through the cultural exchange program, the Hakaya Troupe has also participated in numerous visits to the United Kingdom in 1998, 2002, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019. The Ghirass Center also participated in a cultural exchange through the Syndicate of Social Workers in Norway, in the years 1999, 2001, 2003, 2006, 2011, 2009, 2013, 2016, and 2019. Additionally, the Hakaya group has represented Palestine in international festivals in France in 2000, and Belgium in 2016.
The Hakaya groups for Palestinian folklore are among the best in the Bethlehem area. The group’s costume is the traditional costume of the Bethlehem region, and its members are very professional and enthusiastic. As a result, they have been ranked first in many national and local competitions.